Those are the preliminary findings of Dr. Rey Junco, a college professor who has been studying social media in the college classroom. Not too long ago, students often bristled at the idea of using Facebook in classes because it meant connecting with their professors. But Junco's more recent research shows students prefer Facebook because they're already using it.
"I think [using Facebook] would've been easier and a little more comfortable for people because I think pretty much everyone in my class had a Facebook and nobody had either one of these thing," one student in the study said of a class that gave students the option of using Twitter or Ning, a service that lets people create closed social networks.
[Full disclosure: The author is a part-time college instructor who teaches courses on writing, journalism and social media at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts and requires students to use Twitter for certain class assignments].
Several studies have suggested that students are more engaged and get better grades when social media is a component of their college classes. Junco surmises that students preferred Facebook because it's easier to use. Previous fears about over-sharing with professors appear to have been eased by easier-to-understand privacy settings and groups that allow professors to keep course-related discussions on topic.
Junco finished crunching data for a paper he plans to publish later this year. The bottom line, he said on his blog, is students "overwhelmingly" prefer Facebook when given a choice beween social networks for use in class.
"Since students are 'always' on Facebook, it's easy to see when new comments are made to a post from a class," he wrote. "Some of my research has shown that how students use Facebook is sometimes more important than time spent on the site in terms of grades and student engagement."